Industry growth across a large region can be difficult to project, even if there are clear indications in the numbers. After years’ worth of Africa being labeled (very broadly) as the next place for a tech boom, however, it pays to take a look every now and then at specific industries that could be poised for growth. Narrowing things down ever so slightly to southern Africa, these are four that come to mind.
1 – Fintech
This is the area generating the most discussion of late, and it’s largely because of the relatively large portion of African communities that are, so to speak, “unbanked.” This is basically a term that refers to an individual or a community with limited access to traditional banking and financial systems, and it’s been said that the unbanked in Africa could be one of the biggest opportunities in fintech history. Putting aside the somewhat crass nature of calling the unbanked an opportunity, the point stands. Finance-related tech companies from those that facilitate text-based transactions to those that facilitate cryptocurrency dealings all have the ability to reach people who are unbanked or who may not trust local banking systems. This leads to significant opportunity all over Africa.
2 – Public Transportation
In many parts of Africa urbanization is an ongoing process. Cities and towns are growing quickly, traffic can be suffocating, and individual people are having a harder time getting around efficiently and safely. For this reason, there is said to be a very high demand for personal transportation. To this point this has primarily meant various kinds of taxis and bus systems. There is some potential for more forward-looking and environmentally responsible public transportation industries to make it into African cities over the course of the next decade as well though.
3 – Casino Gaming
Casino gaming in various forms could be on the cusp of a second worldwide boom. Right now, most of the online gaming opportunities come from Europe. Numerous companies support poker tournaments, and English and Irish sites do a nice job of providing a range of titles in the slot and video slot categories. However, the industry is changing thanks to new tech, and in particular virtual reality’s ability to make the games that much more realistic. At the same time, with online gaming becoming more sophisticated, there is some potential for actual casino tourism to pick up as a sort of recycled novelty. With people looking for business opportunities in tech in Africa, and with South Africa’s Sun City setting an example for real casino resorts, both kinds of gaming – online and in person – could be poised for growth in the region.
4 – Retail
The idea of retail offering business opportunities is nothing new, and certainly comes across as somewhat vague. However, some of the more detailed assessments of the business landscape in Africa, including by the World Economic Forum, point to retail as one of the most promising sectors. It’s difficult to decipher precisely what this means, though it seems reasonable to expect more retail chains based out of southern Africa emerging over the next several years.